RP Vision and Exercise

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It is widely held that following a healthy diet, exercising and reducing stress is beneficial to our health in general and also benefits our eyes, as regular and moderate physical exercise, activates micro-circulation and blood circulation, which brings more nutrients and oxygen to the optic cells.

Aerobic and anaerobic exercise, which will benefit RP patients?

Aerobic exercise has been found to be neuroprotective in animal models of retinal degeneration. It will lower intraocular pressure, which is pressure in your eyes, and that helps to keep the retinal ganglion cells protected. It also increases the flow of blood to the optic nerve and the retina. Because of these effects, overall eye health and vision can be restored.

For RP patients, it doesn’t require large amounts of time to exercising. Something as simple as brisk 20-minute walk in the park four times a week will increase the pulse by as much as 25 percent. If walking is not for you, consider doing something else that increases the blood flow, such as bike riding, swimming, dancing, jogging and so on. No matter what the activity you choose, you will not only be benefitting your vision, but you will be strengthening your heart health, too.

However, anaerobic exercise is not recommended for RP patients.

For example, weightlifting, jumping or jumping rope, sprinting, and many forms of strength training.Anaerobic exercises exhaust blood glucose needed for retinal function. Photoreceptors are the most active cells in the body. They convert up to 96 percent of glucose into lactic acid. Under normal conditions, the outer segments of the photoreceptors regenerate. Rods shuttle the glucose to help in this process. One of the signs of RP is the failure of the rods to develop properly and deliver the glucose. Therefore, anaerobic exercise might speed up RP patients’ vision loss.